TCU got its bowl eligiblity and picked up a third straight win in the series against Texas on Friday with a 31-9 victory in Austin. The Horned Frogs are back on the upswing sa they head home for the regular season finale against Kansas State.
After that, it’s a bowl game for TCU. But first, a look back at five takeaways from the Black Friday game against the Longhorns.
1. Every once in a while, the TCU running game shows some potency. Friday was one of those once-in-a-whiles. The Horned Frogs ran for 309 yards, including 287 after halftime when they put the game away. Darius Anderson had a 70-yard touchdown run, the longest play on the ground this season for the Frogs. Three weeks ago, there was a 431-yard rushing game against Baylor. We’ve said it before – with the quality of backs on this team, the running game was bound to become a major part of its identity.
2. It was only three carries, but that sure looked like a coming-out party for Darius Anderson. The freshman from Richmond made the highlights with a 70-yard touchdown run. But his carry on second-and-12 with TCU holding a 17-9 lead in the fourth quarter and Foster Sawyer on his first drive at quarterback may have been the biggest of the game. He turned what looked like a play that would lose yards into a 27-yard gain. It got the drive out of trouble – with Texas sensing momentum and desperate to get the ball back – and on the next play Sawyer beat a run blitz with a pass to Daniel Walsh to the 5-yard line that set up Trevorris Johnson’s touchdown.
3. Sawyer looks like he can be counted on. He’s entered in relief in five games this season, and in none of the five has he appeared overwhelmed. He’s been far from perfect — he had accuracy issues against Texas Tech, and he actually stumbled on his first carry Friday against Texas. But he’s produced points on six of his 15 drives, and two of those ended in field goal attempts that were no good. The 97-yard drive he led against Texas won the game, coach Gary Patterson said. For the season, Saywer is 14-for-30 for 192 yards and a touchdown. And zero turnovers.
In the past four games, TCU is averaging 45.8 carries per game. In the seven games before that, the Horned Frogs averaged 32.7.
4. It’s time to recognize what’s going on with this defense. Remember the West Virginia game? Since then, TCU has played Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas – four offenses that can be called anything from dangerous to effective to elite. In those 16 quarters, plus four overtime possessions, TCU allowed 89 points. That’s barely 22 points a game against those teams. That’ll not only let you survive in the Big 12, it will give you a chance to win. The Frogs were 2-2 in that stretch, but it likely would have been 3-1 with an extra made field goal or two against Texas Tech.
5. A big part of the defensive turnaround is the improved cornerback play. Ranthony Texada has dealt with the likes of Shelton Gibson, KD Cannon and James Washington and been competitive. He had an interception against Baylor, and he has two sacks. Julius Lewis provided immediate dividends when he returned from an Achilles injury at midseason. Jeff Gladney, demoted when Lewis returned, stepped in on Friday with Lewis out and had seven tackles against Texas. In the past five games, Skylar Howard, Pat Mahomes, Seth Russell, Mason Rudolph and Shane Buechele have only a 52.8 percent completion percentage combined against TCU.